Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

between Charles and the Long Parliament, is traced by Lord Nugent in a very skilful and lucid manner, to that eventful stage when both were placed in armed hostility against each other. Hampden, up to that critical period, distinguished bimself in the House of Commons, by a tone of moderation which was highly calculated to produce the most conciliatory dispositions in the opposite party; but when arms were taken up by the partizans of the king, and when thus no alternative but a civil war was left to the country, he was the most earnest of the Parliament leaders in the adoption of vigorous measures. And he gave a proof of his determination at the earliest opportunity, as we find from the following passage:

• It was under the woody brows of his own beauteous Chilterns that Hampden first published the ordinance to marshal the militia of his native county. The parishes and hundreds, often with their preachers at the head, mustered at their market-houses, to march forth to training. In the dearth of all the ordinary implements of war, arms, and accoutrements, of the most grotesque fashion, now left the walls where, from the times of the civil wars of the two Roses, they had hung as hereditary trophies in the manor houses, the churches, and the cottages of the yeomen. In the return of arms, particularly of the levies of the northern parts, at the first outbreak, the long-bow, the brown-bill, and the cross-bow, resumed their place among the equipments of a man at arms. It was not till some months after, when the stores of Hull, and Newcastle, and Plymouth, and of the Tower of London, were distributed, that the match-lock and pistol found their way into the hands of the “ordered musqueteers and dragooneers” in the country parts; and, even to the end of the civil wars, large bodies of men, besides the regular pikemen, were furnished only with rude lances; and on the King's part, many thousands, particularly of the Welchmen, went to the battle with staves and Danish clubs.'-vol. ij.

pp. 169, 170.

The bold resolution of the Parliament to appeal to arms, excited the greatest enthusiasm in those parts of the country, where the king's influence was not too powerful to check it. The cities of London and Westminster shewed the most generous zeal in the cause. The women of the metropolis laid their rings and jewels as a sacrifice on the public altar, and the train bands of the city mustered daily at Moorfields to exercise. It cannot be denied that the king was cordially and liberally supported also by many of his subjects; and in respect of military appointments, he had a very decided advantage over his adversaries. The far-famed campaign which ensued, had rather a singular commencement; for one of the first acts on the offensive which the forces of the king had determined on, was the siege of Caldecott manor house, the account of which is well given by Lord Nugent.

• Scarcely had the siege of Warwick castle been raised, when prince Rupert, with from five to six hundred cavalry, marched upon Caldecot manor-house, in the north of the county, with intent to take it by surprize.

It belonged to Mr. Wm. Purefoy, a gentleman of ancient family, a member of the House of Commons, and colonel of a regiment in garrison at Warwick castle. When Rupert summoned Caldecot, there were within but Mrs. Purefoy, her two daughters, Mr. Abbott, her son-in-law, eight serving men, and a few maid-servants. This brave little garrison refused to surrender, inspired by the example of a woman's courage and fidelity to maintain the charge for her absent husbaud. The history of the civil wars affords several such instances. The stories of Latham Hall, held by the Countess of Derby, and of Wardour castle, by Blanch, lady Arundel, have added lustre to those noble names. The holding of Caldecot was not less heroic, nor its capitulation less honourable. The assailants broke down the main gate of the outer court, but the men stationed at the windows received them with so well-directed a fire, that, at the first outset, three of Rupert's officers and several of his soldiers were slain. There were twelve muskets in the house, the women loading them, as the men continued the execution with rapid and deadly aim. The attack continued for several hours, with repeated assaults, in the intervals between which, as the bullets were expended, the women ran the pewter of their kitchen dishes into moulds for a fresh supply. At length, towards nightfall, mortified with the obstinate resistance, and with the loss he had already sustained, Rupert drew off his party, but as he retired, set fire to the barns and out-houses. The wind blowing fresh upon the main buildings, he again advanced under cover of the smoke and darkness. And now,-the ammunition within failing, -the house threatened with instant conflagration, and no hope of succour remaining, the brave lady went forth, and claimed protection from the prince, stipulating for the lives of her garrison.

• It was then first that he was made aware of the smallness of the force which had so gallantly withstood so fierce and protracted an assault. He granted her condition, and to his honour, as Viccars confesses, “ being much taken with their most notable valour, saved their lives and house from plundering, saying to Mr. Abbott, that he was worthy to be a chief commander in an army, and offered him such a place in his army, if he

with him : but he modestly refused it. However, the said prince fairly performed his promise, and would not suffer a pennyworth of the goods of the house to be taken from them, and so departed.”—vol. ii. PP 252–254.

The motions of the hostile armies respectively, and the celebrated combat of Edgehill, are sketched by Lord Nugent in his very best style. The leaders of the various regiments which fought at this battle on both sides, the positions they occupied, and the deeds which they performed, are recorded with all the minuteness that the highest classic precedent justifies. Even some of the characteristic expressions of the warriors in the hour of danger, are retained in the ample description of Lord Nugent. The brave Lord Lindsey, on the king's side, urged his men to advance by "swearing" the following singular prayer :-“Oh, Lord, thou knowest how busy I must be this day. If I forget thee, do not thou forget me. March on, my boys!” Nor was he forgotten, indeed, by the enemy, for he received a mortal wound, of which he died on the same day. On which side the victory of Edgehill

would go

lies, is a matter that has puzzled too many able partizans to allow us to pronounce an opinion upon that question. The contest was certainly a sanguinary one, and reflected credit on the bravery of the regiments on both sides. In finishing his elaborate picture of this great historical event, Lord Nugent has followed the example of the celebrated painters, who were in the habit of introducing into their most tragic scenes, some incidental group or distant prospect, which, by its soothing influence over the imagination, would afford a resting place, where the mind of the spectator would obtain a temporary repose, after the conflict which it has endured during the contemplation of the dreadful story pourtrayed before it. Thus Leonardo, in his Last Supper, opens the windows of the apartment in which the arch traitor is prosecuting his unholy purposes; and in the distance is observed the scenery of the loveliest of landscapes, enhancing, by its exquisite natural beauty, our horror for the crime, which first claims our attention. The Prince of Wales and the Duke of York, artfully subjoins Lord Nugent, 'then twelve and ten years old, were on the hill. They were placed under the care of Dr. William Harvey, afterwards so famous for his discoveries concerning the circulation of the blood, and then physician in ordinary to the king. During the action, forgetful both of his position and of his charge, and too sensible of the value of time to a philosophic mind, to be cognizant of bodily danger, he took out a book, and sat him down on the grass to read, till warned by the sound of the bullets that grazed and whistled round him, he rose, and withdrew the princes to a securer distance.' As marking the extreme credulity of the time when the battle of Edgehill was fought, we may mention that one of the best authenticated ghost stories in record relates to the events of this encounter. It is represented on the oath of three officers of honour and discretion, and of three other gentlemen of credit, whom the king appointed to report on these prodigies, and to tranquillize the alarms of a country town, that two great armies of ghosts fought over again at the midnight hour, for a period of two months, the battle of Edgehill, to the great consternation of the inhabitants of the neighbourhood.

It would be entirely foreign to our purpose to follow the story of the subsequent fortunes of this unparalleled war. Hampden bore a distinguished part in the campaign, aiding, not less by his counsels and personal bravery, than by the example of strict discipline which he afforded to the troops, the cause of the parliamentary party, It is a fact worthy of being impressed on every British mind, that, during the raging of this civil war, no instance occurred of private assassination or massacre, by any portion of the people. We feel proud, likewise, of the homage which the ministers of justice uniformly received from each of the contending parties; and it must have been a thrilling sight to behold the judges of the land, passing through their circuits with flags of truce, which secured them equal respect froin all parties, whether parliamentarians or

loyalists. This state of things, however, did not last to the end of the war.

It is well knowr, that Hampden died the glorious death of a patriot soldier in the field of battle, in the neighbourhood of Wycombe, crowned,' says Lord Nugent, not with the renown of victory, but with a testimony not less glorious, of fidelity to the sinking fortunes of a conflict which his genius might have more prosperously guided.' The account of his last moments will be read with interest.

• It is a tradition that he was seen first moving in the direction of his father-in-law's (Simeon's) house, at Pyrton. There he had in youth married the first wife of his love, and thither he would have gone to die. But Rupert's cavalry were covering the plain between. Turning his horse, therefore, he rode back across the grounds of Hazeley, in his way to Thame. At the brook which divides the parishes he paused awhile : but it being impossible for him, in his wounded state, to remount if he had alighted to turn his horse over, he suddenly summoned his strength, clapped spurs, and cleared the leap. In great pain, and almost fainting, he reached Thame, and was conducted to the house of one Ezekiel Browne, where his wounds being dressed, the surgeons would for a while have given him hopes of life. But he felt that his hurt was mortal, and indulging in no weak expectations of recovery, he occupied the few days that remained to him in despatching letters of counsel to the parliament, in prosecution of his favourite plan. While the irresolute and lazy spirit which had directed the army in the field should continue to preside in the council of war, Hampden had reason to despair of the great forward movement to which he had throughout looked for the success of the cause.

After nearly six days of cruel suffering, his bodily powers no longer sufficed to pursue or conclude the business of his earthly work. About seven hours before his death he received the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper: declaring that “ though he could not away with the governance of the church by bishops, and did utterly abominate the scandalous lives of some clergymen, he thought its greater part primitive and conformable to God's word as in Holy Scripture revealed.” He was attended by Dr. Giles, rector of Chinnor, with whom he had lived in babits of close friendship, and Dr. Spurstowe, an independent minister, the chaplain of his regiment. At length being well nigh spent and labouring for breath, he turned himself to die in prayer: “Oh, Lord God of Hosts," said he,

great is thy mercy—just and holy are thy dealings unto us, simple men. Save me, oh Lord, if it be thy good will, from the jaws of death. Pardon my manifold transgressions. Oh, Lord, save my bleeding country. Have these realms in thy especial keeping. Confound and level in the dust those who would rob the people of their liberty and lawful prerogative. Let the King see his error, and turn the hearts of his wicked counsellours from the malice and wickedness of their designs. Lord Jesu receive my soul!” He then mournfully uttered, “Oh, Lord, save my country !. Oh, Lord be merciful to .. " and here his speech failed him. He fell back in the bed and expired.'-vol. ii. pp. 435–438.

With respect to Hampden's general character and conduct, we

*

feel that we cannot act more prudently, than by adopting the opinion of Lord Nugent, who states, that it would be presumptuous to say more of that great man than what his acts tell. His eulogy is beautifully and truly recorded in an inscription over the bust of Hampden, in the Temple of British Worthies, at Stowe, in the following words: “With great courage and consummate abilities he began an open opposition to an arbitrary court, in defence of the liberties of his country: supported them in parliament, and died for them in the field.”

Art. III.—The Annual Obituary. Vol. XVI. 8vo. pp. 476. London:

Longman & Co. 1832. It is well that amidst the festivities of the season which ushers in the new year, we should be uniformly reminded by such a volunie as this, of the certain goal towards which we are all hastening, and of the names of the most distinguished among those who have most recently arrived at that termination of their earthly career. To many persons, death wears so formidable an aspect, that they cannot be induced to contemplate it in its abstract form ; it is clothed in terrors from which they fly, as from the impure contact of a being suffering under the plague. The Obituary brings the matter before them under a less repulsive aspect, and it were well if, when they read of the departure of such of their fellow beings as had risen to eminence during life, they would also cast a glance before them, and convince themselves that, in the language of the poet, the path even of glory“ leads but to the grave.” So much is this the case, that he who would wish to anticipate the catalogue of names, which is likely to occupy the seventeenth volume of this publication for the ensuing year, need do little more than run over the lists of Parliament, and the different professions, make a few calculations of the ages of those who have been long before the public eye, and he will find it not difficult to hit upon those, who are much nearer to their last homes than they are aware of. For none of us can ever believe that death is approaching our door. We have all a hope, even the oldest amongst us, that he is at least five or ten years off; and the time which ought, in truth, to be spent in preparing for his reception, is too often devoted to the most strenuous exertions for dissipating the fear of a visit from him altogether.

Of all the follies which mankind commit, there is no one more gross, or more inexcusable than this. What, in fact, is death, but a change of life? It has been beautifully and truly described by some writer, as a second edition of man, revised and corrected.” The promises of immortality hereafter, which are everywhere around us presented to our notice, are so numerous and so striking, that it is impossible to believe that we can be under a delusion

« НазадПродовжити »